What is Point-of-Care Testing (POCT)?

Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) is testing that takes place near a patient’s location, specifically in situations where a rapid turnaround time (TAT) can have a profound impact on patient care outcomes. The biggest advantage to POCT is that by providing faster access to test results, this can, in turn, expedite the speed of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. In addition, POCT in the right situations (such as an urgent care location, pharmacy, or emergency department) can reduce unnecessary hospital admissions or expensive imaging tests.

POCT Growing in Demand

Demand for POC testing continues to grow within our healthcare system because of its tremendous potential in value-based care and the real-time response that near-patient diagnostic testing allows. With patient engagement becoming more important in healthcare, the fact that POCT is often associated with increased patient satisfaction is another factor that is driving growth in the POCT market. The technology behind the devices, and the ability to electronically integrate the results across testing sites, is becoming more reliable and more affordable, which is also driving the adoption of point-of-care testing.

POCT for COVID-19

POCT has been in high demand for COVID-19 to help quickly diagnose the virus and mitigate its spread. Rapid POCT was implemented to help address the COVID-19 testing backlog and delayed turnaround time (TAT). While the lesser sensitivity and specificity of some POCT is acknowledged as an issue, its rapid TAT is a worthwhile trade-off in patient scenarios where speed is of the essence. While POCT is imperfect, when performed as intended, its rapid TAT is a worthwhile trade-off in certain patient care situations.

POCT Management Challenges

In order to achieve the real-time benefits associated with POCT, not only does the test have to be performed at the point of care, but the results have to be electronically integrated into the patients’ chart and immediately available to the healthcare team. When this is the case, POCT can improve the efficiency of providers and potentially improve patient care and outcomes.

However, POCT is often dispersed throughout a healthcare organization across multiple testing sites, making its management a challenge. POCT often takes place in silos within a larger healthcare delivery network and may not be under the clinical laboratory’s management.

POCT Integration Across Testing Device Locations

Because point-of-care testing sites can be widely scattered across a healthcare campus, it is important to have a robust POCT data management system to capture important testing information, manage quality control, and support regulatory guidelines. Ideally, the POCT program can be efficiently and effectively monitored from a central location in real-time. In reality, few healthcare organizations have been able to successfully integrate their POCT into their EHR. The full value of POC diagnostic testing is only seen when those results are immediately accessible to healthcare providers.

POCT Connectivity Standards

In 2000, the Connectivity Industry Consortium was formed with the goal of developing POCT connectivity standards. These standards evolved into the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute POCT1-A. The connectivity standard greatly improved the quality of POC testing. The intent of the standard was to work towards a plug-and-play environment for POCT connectivity where devices are easily interfaced to LIS, EHR, and HIS. The standards opened the door for the development of POCT management systems that are capable of connecting multiple devices from various manufacturers. CLSI now has a consensus committee that oversees the development of ongoing POCT standards.

Today there are many POC test devices that can reduce or eliminate operator and analytical errors, and there are POCT data management systems available that enable an automatic, real-time flow of data from the POCT devices to the LIS and EHR, as well as providing remote access to quality control and operator certification data. While many POCT devices can be directly interfaced to the LIS, most are connected to the LIS through data management systems or middleware.

POCT Connectivity Reduces the Opportunity for Errors

Having a strong POCT data management system and connectivity solution can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent manually entering results, eliminating errors inherent to manually entered results, and facilitating real-time access to the results so providers can make timely care decisions. In the advancing arena of healthcare data analytics to support patient-centered care and population health management, it is no longer a luxury to have POCT electronically integrated—it is a necessity. POCT must be immediately available in the patients’ chart so that the benefits associated with rapid TAT are fully realized, and the POCT data is included in the overall data snapshot of the healthcare organization to facilitate analytics-driven business decisions and support inspection-readiness.

Orchard Point-of-Care

Orchard® Point-of-Care™ is a sophisticated POCT data management and integration solution that enables POC coordinators to track patient testing, testing devices, operator certifications, and QC from a central location to help ensure quality testing and promote patient safety.

Contact us to learn more about Orchard's laboratory solutions!